AMERICA the STRONG—Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation
By William J. Bennett and John T. E. Cribb

OVERVIEW: America the Strong shows the next generation five fundamental principles that have made the United States a great nation and why they are worth preserving. It answers more than one hundred questions, from "Do conservatives hate the government?" to "What's wrong with having an open border?" to "Why can't rich people pay all the taxes?"

AUTHORS: William J. Bennett is the former US Secretary of Education and current host of the seventh-ranked nationally syndicated radio program Morning in America. Bill is the author of twenty-four books, including #1 New York Times bestsellers The Book of Virtues and The Death of Outrage.
John T.E. Cribb is an author whose previous work includes The American Patriot's Almanac (co-authored with Bill Bennett) and The Educated Child (co-authored with Bill Bennett and Checker Finn). He has collaborated with Bill Bennett on several books, including The Book of Virtues.

MY REVIEW: America the Strong is one of the best books I have read this year. It is a book that needs to be read by every person interested in conservatives ideals. In my opinion, it also needs to be read by every American. But of course, we know that is not going to happen. Therefore I am just hoping to get this good book into the hands of as many as possible.

William J. Bennet and John T.E. Cribb deal with the distortion that "conservative" means extremist and intolerant. They explain what conservatism really means, using five fundamental principles summarized by the word FLINT:
*Free enterprise,
*Limited government,
*Individual liberty,
*National defense,
*Traditional values
This book explains why conservative ideas are good for our country and supplies clear rationales for taking a conservative stance. It answers more than a hundred questions about conservative positions on issues ranging from immigration to illegal drugs.

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I was asked today to name my favorite Max Lucado book.


NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM THE SAVIOR was my first Max Lucado book and my favorite.

It was 1986. Stockton, California. I was sitting in my study at the church building going through the mail. I opened a package that contained Max's book and a brief note. The book had been sent to me as a gift from Multnomah Press. I was surprised. But pleased.

I had never heard of Max Lucado. But I soon learned that he was also a member of the Church of Christ. I was interested.

I opened to the first chapter, THE PART THAT MATTERS.

The words I read had a profound effect on me and changed my life.

Max began by telling the story of a young man named Ian who grew up in the church but became disenchanted and quit. He asked Max, "What really matters? What counts?"

Max asks, "What would you have said to Ian? Would you have spoken on the evil of the world or maybe the eminence of heaven? Would you have quoted John 3:16 or Acts 2:38 or maybe read l Corinthians 13? What really matters?"

"Is this all there is? Sunday attendance. Pretty songs. Faithful tithings. Golden crosses. Three-piece suits. Big choirs. Leather Bibles. It is nice and all, but...where is the heart of it?"

Years later Max was still thinking about the question and he said, "Yet now, years later, I know what I would share with him."

Think about these words from Paul in l Corinthians, chapter 15. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.                         "First importance" he says. 
Read on:
That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

"There it is. Almost too simple. Jesus was killed, buried, and resurrected. Surprised? The part that matters is the cross. No more and no less. The cross."


Monday, July 27, 2015

By Ronald Kessler

OVERVIEW: The First Family Detail reveals: *Vice President Joe Biden regularly orders the Secret Service to keep his military aide with the nuclear football a mile behind his motorcade, potentially leaving the country unable to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack. *Secret Service agents discovered that former president Bill Clinton has a blond mistress—code named Energizer by the agents—who lives near the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York *The Secret Service covered up; the fact that President Ronald Reagan's White House staff overruled the agency to let unscreened spectators get close to Reagan as he left the Washington Hilton, allowing John W. Hinckley Jr. to shoot the president.* Because Hillary Clinton is so nasty to agents, being assigned to her protective detail is considered a form of punishment and the worst assignment in the Secret Service.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: RONALD KESSLER is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of the FBI, In the President's Secret Service, and The CIA at War. A former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post investigative reporter, Kessler has won eighteen journalism awards.

MY REVIEW: We all love stories. We all love storytellers. Ronald Kessler is a skilled storyteller. The stories he tells in this book are not fiction. This is dead-serious nonfiction. This book is crammed with headline-making revelations. It's about what goes on in the private lives of presidents, presidential candidates and their wives and children. This is a book about what these people are really like.

Secret Service agents have a front-row seat where they look on the private lives of those who lead our country. In this book Secret Service agents reveal the hidden lives of the presidents. If you are among the many interested in these behind the scene stories, you will love this book. If not, you will find Kessler's book a waster of time. Only you can make the decision.

One of the most interesting chapters, for me, was chapter eleven: White House Collar. This chapter tells the interesting story about how many people try to get into the White House to see the President and how the Secret Service protects him from these people and all those who might do him harm. The book has twenty-six chapters or stories and an epilogue. The stories are brief and the book is small. It's an easy, fun read. And very informative.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, July 10, 2015

Medicine Park, Oklahoma is a beautiful little community about twenty miles from my home town of Lawton.

I started preaching there while I was still in High School.

The church met in a little cobblestone school building down by the creek.

Every Sunday I would teach a Bible Class. And then step up onto the school stage and lead the singing, read Scripture and pray. After that I would preach for about twenty-five minutes.

When I first started preaching there we had eleven members. The church grew slowly. But it did grow. As soon as a person confessed their faith in Christ we baptized them. In the warm part of the year we went to one of the beautiful lakes close by. In the winter months we drove into one of the Lawton church buildings and used their baptistery.

When it was time for me to leave for Abilene Christian College the church had grown to thirty-five members.

This little group of Christians hated to see me go but they were happy for me that I could continue my education and prepare to better preach the gospel.

On my last Sunday we had a little going away party. It was a pot-luck. That's what churches did back then. As we said our last good-byes they all gathered around to hug me and then a dear, old, gentleman pressed an envelope into my hand and walked away with tears in his eyes.

The envelope had money in it. Not much. But probably a sacrifice for most.

I went to Abilene Christian. I graduated with a major in Bible and a minor in speech.

What touched me the most when I opened that envelope was not the bills (although I needed them the most) but the change. Somebody---maybe a child or a widow, didn't have much but wanted to give. That was fifty-nine years ago but I get misty eyed every time I think about it---and that is often.

I loved that little church. I love the Lord's church every where. Always have. Always will. 


Monday, July 06, 2015

A Life In The Public Square
By Randy Boyagoda

OVERVIEW: Best known as the editor in chief of First Things magazine, a fixture in the national media, and a personal counselor to Pope John Paul II and President George W. Bush, Richard John Neuhaus was a brilliant, hard-charging hero for religious and political conservatives, and a fearsome, well-connected nemesis of religious and secular liberals. But his remarkable array of involvements in American public life weren't always conservative, or Catholic for that matter. For all the headline-grabbing and powerful influence, however, the heart of this captivating biography is the story of a man motivated in all things by a simple love of God—from his humble beginnings during the Depression in rural Canada to his days as a young Lutheran pastor in the inner cities of Brooklyn and then Manhattan to his years as, arguably, the most influential religious voice in America.

AUTHOR: Randy Boyagoda is a professor of American Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. His most recent novel, Beggar's Feast, was selected as a New York times Book Review Editor's Choice, was nominated for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and hs been published to critical acclaim around the world. He written for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, First Things, the New Statesman, and Harper's.

MY REVIEW: Richard John Neuhaus lived a fascinating and active life. This is a captivating biography. Neuhaus was one of the leading religious figures of the 20th century. He passionately defended and encouraged bringing religion into the public square. My personal beliefs and doctrine is vastly different than his, both when he was a Lutheran and then as a Catholic. But I strongly agree with his feelings about bringing religion into everyday life in general and especially politics.

I recommend this book to all those who love to read biographies. This is a good one! You will be interested in a man who was labeled sometimes as liberal and others times as conservative. "Neuhaus was truly a sign of contradiction in our times." Author Randy Boyagoda has written a biography that is balanced, interesting and relevant. He has done careful research and although he writes in a very detailed way, he is able to hold your interest.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Monday, June 08, 2015

"Let me go, let me go, let me go lover, let me go, let me go, let me go!" goes the song.

Turn me loose, let me go needs to be said to many people and things. It's not always lovers that have us in a strong grip.

John Ortberg writes about the possibility of us being in the grip of idolatry and then mentions the idolatry of place. ( His book: All The Places To Go--How Will You Know?)

In a recent Face Book post I wrote about how much I love Arizona and how I believe we should love where we are. But I also see John's point that we can be held captive by the idolatry of place. 

We should never be so in love with place that we cannot be moved---not even by God.

When God opens a door we need to go through it. 

Change is hard, And it's not always easy to know if the voice we hear is God's voice. But we need to listen.

In Genesis God told Abraham to go. Abraham was told to leave home. That could not have been easy. But he went. God "opened a door" and Abraham went though it. From our perspective we can see it was the right thing to do.

We need to walk with God in such a way that when he speaks we recognize His Voice. 

Let's not let any place become an idol that we cannot break the grip of.

Abraham left his home and as a result became a blessing to many.

Called people are Blessed to Bless!


Thursday, June 04, 2015

How Just One Change Can
Make All Of Life Better
By Brant Hansen

OVERVIEW: Isn't taking offense normal? Aren't we supposed to get offended? Isn't anger at sin justifiable? If God gets mad, why can't we? Brant Hansen asks a radical, freeing question: What if Christians were the most unoffendable people on the planet? And he offers a life-changing idea: "righteous anger" is a myth, and giving up our "right" to be offended can be one of the most healthy, simplifying, relaxing, refreshing, stress-relieving, encouraging things we can do. In a winsome, humorous, and conversational style, Hansen helps you release religious burdens and experience the joy of gratitude, perhaps for the first time, every single day of your life.

AUTHOR: BRANT HANSEN is a radio host who has won multiple National Personality of the Year awards. He also works with CURE International, a worldwide network of hospitals that brings life-changing medical care and the good news of God's love to children with treatable conditions. Brant has been a game inventor and a youth pastor, and is still a very poor (his words) accordion player, although he ardently defends his right to play it. Brant currently lives in Northern California with his wife, Carolyn; his son, Justice; and his daughter, Julia. He can be found at and @branthansen on Twitter.

MY REVIEW: Even before I got to the table of contents I was liking this book. In the middle of a blank page I read these words: "To all those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others. Wait: that's everybody." I turned the page and found this powerful statement by Dallas Willard: "Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life." Wow! This is a good book.

The title of the first chapter states that being unoffendable is a ridiculous idea. Before reading Hansens's book that was exactly what I thought. After reading this splendid book, I changed my mind. However, I have to confess—I still struggle with the thought.

Hansen writes with a humorous, grace filled style. His book is easy to read but what he teaches is tough to accept as truth. But truth it is and by the time you get to the last page you will know it and accept it. This is a book that needed to be written AND READ.

( I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Making A Life Of One's Own
By Kate Bolick

OVERVIEW: SPINSTER is a slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remain unmarried. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the potential within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives—a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and ours to savor.

AUTHOR: KATE BOLICK is a contributing editor to The Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.

MY REVIEW: As a minister for forty-seven years I did a lot of counseling. I counseled with singles, married, divorced, young, old, rich, poor, sexually confused, depressed—you name it. They were all trying to learn how to live authentically. Almost all of them were trying desperately to "measure up"—to please others. I wish I had read Kate Bolick's book back in my counseling days. Her book is not only helpful for singles, it encourages us all to examine the way we live. We all should consider the question Mary Oliver asks and Bolick ends her book with: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I didn't enjoy reading about Kate Bolick's sex life but maybe singles will feel they need this information. If so, they will not be disappointed as she is not timid in revealing this part of her life and the five woman she introduces as those who blazed a trail before her. I became a little bored with all the details she went into when telling us how these women lived.

Susan Cain is a bestselling author and one that I admire. However, I think she missed the mark when she said, "Kate Bolick's Spinster will take your breath away." I don't think so! However, I do think you will appreciate this book and Bolick's insistence on an examined life. Singles especially will be interested in the statement Bolick begins her book with: "WHOM TO MARRY, AND WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN—THESE TWO QUESTIONS DEFINE EVERY WOMAN'S EXISTENCE."
And if they do not already know it, she helps them to understand times have changed. You no longer have that question hanging over your head. You do not have to marry at all to live an authentic life.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

By Keith Ferrin

OVERVIEW: Do you feel like you SHOULD read the Bible more? This book will help you WANT to read it. Keith Ferrin has been talking to churches for years about enjoying God's Word. Here he shares the most helpful ideas and habits you can start using today. You will find ten proven tips that are equally practical whether you are a longtime Bible student or simply exploring what this life-changing book is all about. Aimed at deepening your relationship with God, these simple suggestions will help you focus more easily as your read, remember Scripture better, and most importantly, enjoy the Bible and its Author more than you ever dreamed possible. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: KEITH FERRIN is an author, speaker, and storyteller who strives to help people realize that the living Word of God is a reality—not a phrase. His one-man dramatic, word-for-word presentations of whole books of the Bible have been seen by thousands. Keith lives with his wife and three children just outside of Seattle, Washington.

MY REVIEW: Before I read Keith's book I would have said, "Yes, I enjoy reading the Bible!" Every Sunday for forty-seven years I went to the pulpit with a Bible in my hand. I preached from it. I taught Sunday morning and Wednesday night Bible classes. I preached from the Bible in evangelistic meetings. I conducted many small group home Bible studies. I love the Scriptures. I have given my life to teaching from them. Enjoy the Bible? Of course I do! However now, after reading this splendid book, I have to think that I haven't always enjoyed reading the Bible in the way Keith writes about it.

This book opened my eyes to many things. I now approach the Bible in a new way and I am enjoying it MORE. I believe every Christian I know can profit from reading this book. I hope many will read it and share what they learn with others. If you think you enjoy reading the Bible now get this book, you will enjoy it even more. And that will be a blessing.

(I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, May 15, 2015

Breaking the Snares That So Easily Entangle
By Robert Morris

OVERVIEW: Truly Free will show you the warning signs that your life may be opened to evil and how you can overcome the enemy and find freedom. Using clear, biblically based teaching, Robert Morris invites you to join him on  a journey to true freedom. You'll gain insight into your personal struggles as he openly shares how God helped him find freedom from chronic illness, lust, temptation, and insecurity. If you've ever wondered, Why do I keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again? Why can't I change? Take heart—there is a way out! With relevant scriptures, prayers, and questions for contemplation or group discussion, this book explains how you can find lasting freedom and live truly free.

AUTHOR: Robert Morris is the founding senior pastor of Gateway Church, a multicampus, evangelistic, Spirit-empowered church in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. He is featured on the weekly television program The Blessed Life, broadcast to approximately one hundred million homes in the United States and more than two hundred countries around the world. Robert is the bestselling author of eleven books.

MY REVIEW: The best thing about this book is that it dwells on the goodness and power and truth of Jesus Christ. It isn't a book that dwells on evil, the bizarre, cruel and unusual. There are other books that cover that. This book is about the freedom that is in Christ that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:1.

I agree with Joyce Meyer, Bible teacher and bestselling author, who said: "Truly Free is a great reminder that there is a spiritual battle raging all around us, but we have the victory in Christ. This book can give you hope no matter what struggles you are facing."

I don't agree with everything Robert Morris says in this book. Of course not! I read and review dozens of books every year and although I generally agree with most of what I read, I sometimes find myself in disagreement. The things I disagree with in Robert Morris's book are things that I am in serious study about. I haven't stopped reading and thinking about these things. I am reading, praying and asking for God's guidance.

This is an important book and one that every serious student of the Bible needs to consider.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Monday, May 04, 2015

Sorting through boxes of books trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to get rid of I made a wonderful discovery. I discovered I am the owner of a 1937 copy of Dale Carnegie's FIVE MINUTE BIOGRAPHIES. 

I am amazed at my surprise. Why? Because when it comes to books I have a great memory. I do not have a filing system for my many books and yet I can locate any book quickly. And it is a rare thing for me to forget when and where I acquired a book. Especially one I value as much as this one.

One of the first books I read as a teenager was Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. My brother gave me a copy of the book and asked me to read it. I wasn't interested in reading it but I'm glad I did. I still have the book and have read it many times.

I like to read biographies and I especially like the ones in this book because they are brief. And I like the way Carnegie writes. He is a great story teller and his book is filled with great stories about interesting people. I love the titles he gives to each one.
Titles like: The Missionary Who Got On The Wrong Train--And Became A Famous Magician; Two-cent Newspapers Bought Him Castles In Spain, Cuckoo Clocks, And Egyptian Mummies;He Was Ashamed Of Having Written Two Of The World's Greatest Novels; He Was Shot In The Breast But He Kept Right On With His Speech;The "Tough Guy" Who Went Through High School In Three Months And Wrote Fifty-One Books In Eighteen Years.

I was three years old when this splendid books was first published.
The price $1.00. To me it's a treasure. 


Friday, May 01, 2015

How To Find Peace While Chasing
Your Dreams
By Pete Wilson

OVERVIEW: Pete Wilson provides a plan for living that will lead you to a place of peace that you've only dreamed about and a life filled with meaning, significance, and satisfaction. This is a book to be used as a field guide to ruthlessly trusting God's plan—even in the face of difficulty and uncertainty. Each chapter discusses some aspect of embracing God's call for your life, based on Scripture and the authors observations and experiences.

AUTHOR: Pete Wilson is the founding and senior pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee, a committed church community that he and his wife, Brandi, planted in 2002. Cross Point has grown to reach more than six thousand people each week-end through its seven campuses located around the Nashville area, and online. As one of the fastest-growing churches in America, Pete's ministry—an outreach focused on helping people become devoted to Christ, irrevocably committed to each other, and relentlessly dedicated to reaching those outside of God's family with the gospel—has made him a frequent speaker at national and international church conferences. Pete gained national attention in 2010 when Thomas Nelson published his best-selling book, Plan B, a title that has been printed in five languages and launched Putting Plan B into Action, a 6-week DVD curriculum that serves as a study companion to the book, Empty Promises, Pete's second book, focuses on the human desire to find purpose and hope in things that are not God. Pete earned his bachelor's degree in communications from Kentucky Western University and attended seminary at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

MY REVIEW: Dave Ramsey, New York Times bestselling author wrote, "If you've ever been scared and confused about what to do next, this is the book for you." I agree! I also agree with Christine Caine, founder of The A21 Campaign who said, "What Keeps You Up at Night? will help you not only discover the adventure you were born to live, but to actually live it."

Pete Wilson is an excellent communicator. In this splendid book he uses many illustrations to put his point across and tells wonderful stories that inspire. This is a book filled with wisdom. But it is mostly just good, common sense. You won't have to read and re-read to get the meaning and you won't have look up words in a dictionary. You will find yourself underling and marking passages that you want to remember and refer to again quickly. This is a book you will want to pass on to someone else you care about and you may buy extra copies to give away.

(I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishing in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Libertarians, Conservatives, And The Fight
For The Right's Future
By Charles C. W. Cooke

OVERVIEW: There is an underserved group of conservatives for whom fiscal responsibility, constitutional obedience, and controlled government spending remain crucial tenets, but issues such as gay marriage and drug control are approached with a libertarian bent. In this book Charles C. W. Cooke engages with the data and the philosophy behind this trend, applauding conservatarianism as a force that can help. Republicans mend the many ills that have plagued their party in recent years and sustain the momentum gained in the 2014 midterms. Conservatarians are vexed by Republicans' failure to cut the size and scope of Washington, D.C. but they are critical of some libertarians for their unacceptable positions on abortion, national defense, and immigration. They praise conservatives' efforts to protect Second Amendment rights—efforts that have recently been wildly successful—but they see the War on Drugs as unmitigated disaster that goes against everything conservatives ought to value. All movements run the risk of stagnation and of losing touch with the principles and values that made them successful in the first place. In The Conservatarian Manifesto, Charles Cooke shows the way back to a better and more honest conservatism that champions limited government, reality-based policy, and favor for the smallest minority of all, the individual.

AUTHOR: Charles C.W. Cooke is a writer at National Review and a graduate of the University of Oxford, at which he studied modern history and politics. His work has focused especially on Anglo-american history, British liberty, free speech, the Second Amendment and American exceptionalism. Cooke is the cohost of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen podcast and has broadcast for HBO (Real Time with Bill Maher), BBC, MSNBC, Fox News, The Blaze, CNBC, CTV, ABC, Sun News and CBS. In addition to National Review his writing has also been published by the New York Times, National Interest the Washington Times, and the New York Post.

MY REVIEW: The Conservatarian Manifesto needs to be read by all those interested in the current political era. Charles C. W. Cooke is a brilliant writer and he makes a strong case for the right to hold unpopular views and make unpopular choices. These views and choices may be wrong but he writes about the right of the individual to be wrong. In this splendid book, Charles C. W. Cooke makes it clear that conservatarianism is now a part of what is happening politically and that it needs to be examined and reasoned about. He does that brilliantly!

I recommend The Conservatarian Manifesto to all but especially to those with a right-leaning worldview. This is one of the most interesting and educational books I have read in a long time.
Cook is an excellent writer and a brilliant scholar. He makes his points as clearly as possible but still because of the topic, I found myself reading and re-reading. However, I don't see that as a bad thing. I think it helped me center in and to better understand what he was saying. If you are a person that is interested in what is going on in politics today and if you are willing to accept truth wherever you find it, you will love this book.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)